BWW Review: BROADWAY NOIR Sets New York's Finest Up Against Broadway Babies
Last year at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, I discovered CAC Studios and their own unique brand of musical theatre entertainment, musically directed by Dan Sugi who also acts and sings up a storm. So when I discovered his first full length musical creation BROADWAY NOIR was having its world premiere at Fringe this year, you can be sure I was there to see it on opening night. And the musical genius has outdone himself on this one!
Continuing in the immersive style which first pulled me into his shows, Sugi's BROADWAY NOIR is being presented in the intimate backroom cabaret space at 3 Clubs, located at 1123 N. Vine Street in Hollywood, just a few steps north of Santa Monica Blvd., the famous hangout of Frank Sinatra during Hollywood's heyday. The environment totally lends itself to the time period of the piece when bedazzled ladies and their well-heeled gents spent late nights hanging out and drinking with famous Hollywood stars.
Everyone is encouraged to come dressed in your 1940's finest to peel back the curtains and go behind the scenes into the shady inner workings of the theatre business as you follow two of New York's finest detectives as they investigate the disappearance of Broadway's brightest new star. During their investigation, you get to eavesdrop as they interrogate bumbling producers, caffeine-crazed directors, mirror-hungry actors, and mysterious Broadway wannabes.
With Sugi on honky-tonk piano and Matt von Roderick adding in bluesy trumpet accompaniment, we first meet the detective team, Roger and Carter, played by Nathan Ondacek and Max Lichtig as they are assigned a case by their often screaming boss Albert Frost (Zachary Johnson-Dunlop) to investigate the death of a Broadway showgirl who body was found in the river. Carter is especially intrigued as his fiancée Lucy (Lauren Byrd) is a hopeful Broadway baby going to many auditions without yet being cast. So when she is finally offered a bit part in a show directed by Ezikiel Rain (Martin Feldman) and then manages to jump right in to the top star spot, the detectives' suspicions go on high alert for her safety.
Along the way, they meet an assortment of standout performers including Adam Lau as the comical producer Richard Fox, and Emily Decker as Broadway star Zelda D'Onofrio. Their solo numbers "It's a Business" and "A Dollar Worth Dying For" are brilliant character pieces delivered with enough enthusiasm to fill the room 10 times over. But then that is true for all the musical numbers, each performed at peak perfection by the entire cast under the direction of Julia Lisa.
And mark my words, I look forward to the day Adan Lau plays Edgar Allan Poe as his natural appearance, macabre facial expressions and attitude fit that character to a tee.
The highlight of Sugi's musical numbers is Roger's final solo "Then They're Gone" which Nathan Ondacek delivers through his heartbreak at falling for his best friend's gal. Being the honorable guy he is, there is a never a question he will ultimately do the right thing.
And be sure to chat up Nick Rubando (Jones/Reporter) when you first arrive as he strolls around the audience to create the 1940s world into which you have stepped. Tip your fedora, lift your martini to toast, and get ready for Dan Sugi's musical mystery world premiere where everyone can have a really good time, even though New York City is quite a smelly place.
BROADWAY NOIR has just two more Fringe performances on Thursday, June 16th at 6:15 PM and Sunday, June 19th @ 3:45 PM at Three Clubs during Hollywood Fringe. Show run time is 2hrs, and the house will open 15 minutes prior to performance. Be advised Three Clubs serves alcohol (right in the show room) and is 21 and over only.
Join in the fun with the cast of BROADWAY NOIR
Max Lichtig, Nicholas Rubando and Nathan Ondracek
Nathan Ondracek, left, and Lauren Byrd. Photo Credit: Matt Kamimura.
Lauren Byrd sings up a storm. Photo Credit: Matt Kamimura.
Nick Rubando and Aaron Lau in Broadway Noir at Three Clubs (photo by Matt Kamimura)
The detectives grill the Broadway director, Ezikiel Rain (Nathan Ondracek, Martin Feldman and Max Lichtig
Adam Lau, center and ensemble sing about the the all mighty dolllar bill.. Photo Credit: Matt Kamimura.